When it comes to gardening in extreme temperatures, such as blistering hot summers or frosty, snowy winters, you must take proper precautions. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing your plants AND your time.
Gardening in Moderate Temperature
Sure, when the sun is moderate and the evenings are still warm, running a flower or vegetable garden in your yard is an enjoyable and easy process. What could be more delightful than simply putting seeds and plants into the ground and watching them flourish? When all you need is a little water and TLC to keep things growing, life is a dream.
The troubles start when the thermometer changes more drastically. When the summer days are filled with never-ending, scorching sunbeams, your plants will dry up and die if you’re not prepared. On the other hand, when the temperature dips, your plants will be in trouble if they haven’t been put to bed properly.
Starting to worry about your plants? Read on for some tips.
Precautions For Summer Sun and Heat
Use Companion Planting Techniques
Picture the rainforest with its multiple layers of foliage: towering trees, giant shrubbery, plenty of ground cover, and microclimates galore. This could be recreated to some extent in your home gardens by placing your plants at various heights. Hardier, larger trees and bushes make sunshade for more delicate groundlings such as flowers and herbs.
Wait Until The Fall For New Plants
You might be hyped up to try something novel in the middle of July. But this simply isn’t the time for new growth, whether they’re seedlings or seeds.
New plants need a mild and gentle introduction into foreign soil. They will likely not thrive if they are forced to take root with brutal sun rays and insufficient watering. Furthermore, seeds will dry out faster and often fail to germinate under these conditions.
Do yourself a favor, and wait until autumn.
Water Trees Deeply and Less Often
This is not the case for smaller plants, vegetables, and greens, but established trees would do better to be watered in this fashion. Deep watering creates a well or reservoir in the ground for roots to tap into and survive for longer in harsh conditions. On the other hand, frequent, shallow watering will not reach these roots and dry up quickly in the hot soil.
Fertilizing and pruning are actions for the springtime, because that is when water levels are high. Additionally, plants are just itching to get sprouting and growing during this time.
Missed fertilizing in spring? Wait until the temperature is cooler before doing so. A high dosage of fertilizer in the heat could very well scorch your poor plants even more.
Mulch Is Your Friend
It may seem counterintuitive, but adding mulch to plants before the heat of the summer could keep them cooler. It’s all about insulation and protecting the plants from the harsh direct sunlight. It could also prevent the soil from drying out prematurely.
Tips For When Snow and Frost Kick In
Go With Plants That Will (At Least) Survive These Conditions
It’s always okay to plant veggies, herbs, and flowers that delight you for a season and then get turned over into the soil again or plucked out altogether. A little autumn preparation is normal, but replanting absolutely everything from scratch each spring is not.
Cover During Frosts
Start by watching the weather, and when your area has a frost alert, act accordingly.
Use frost screens, towels, or sheets to cover and protect anything that will not survive.
Do Not Prune
As much as your fingers might itch to prune the dead leaves and stems of plants that go dormant during winter (think strawberries), just leave them be. They are going through their normal processes and will bounce back in the springtime.
If It’s Mobile, Move It
For all your pots and containers, remember you can relocate these at your convenience. Move plants to sunnier locations or completely inside as appropriate.
Mulch Is Still Your Friend!
For many plants, you want to avoid the frost/thaw cycle and maintain a consistent temperature. Use at least three inches of mulch over these plants or at the base of trees to protect the roots.
Final Gardening Thoughts
The trick to making life (and gardening!) easier is to reduce the battles you are fighting. Try not to make everything a colossal struggle. If you’re in love with a particular plant or two that is not precisely in your gardening “zone,” then by all means, try and nurture it to keep it alive during the off-seasons. However, it’s always a good idea to work with plants that suit your climate.